nor is regulated as hazardous. If these different types of waste are combined, then the total must be treated as hazardous waste, and the price for disposal of the nonhazardous portion increases markedly. When safe and allowed by regulation, disposal of nonhazardous waste via the normal trash or sewer can substantially reduce disposal costs. This is the kind of waste segregation that makes economic as well as environmental sense.

It is wise to check the rules and requirements of the local solid waste management authority and develop a list of materials that can be disposed of safely and legally in the normal trash. This includes waste that is not regulated because it does not exhibit any of the hazardous characteristics (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity) as defined by EPA and is not listed as hazardous. The common wastes usually not regulated as hazardous include certain salts (e.g., potassium chloride and sodium carbonate), many natural products (e.g., sugars and amino acids), and inert materials used in a laboratory (e.g., noncontaminated chromatography resins and gels).

7.B.8 Disposal of Spills

Most chemical spills can and should be cleaned up by laboratory workers themselves. In general, these are spills of known composition that do not involve injury, do not represent a fire or personal hazard, and are less than 1 gallon (or less for very toxic materials). Regulations allow laboratory workers to clean up such spills, although it is advisable that they have training to handle spills and adequate equipment to carry out the cleanup safely. Outside help, properly trained, should be requested if there is any doubt about the ability of the laboratory personnel to clean up the spill safely. But once help is requested from outside the immediate spill area, specific personnel training requirements and other regulatory control may apply.

General guidelines for cleaning up spills are as follows:

  1. Assess the potential hazard presented by the spill to personnel within the work area as well as within other parts of the facility and the outside environment.

  2. Remove possible sources of ignition if the spilled material is flammable:

    • Turn off hot plates, stirring motors, and flames.

    • Shut down equipment in the area that could increase danger.

  1. Secure the area so that no one will walk through the spill or interfere with the cleanup efforts.

  2. Choose appropriate personal protection devices:

    • Always wear protective gloves and goggles or a face shield.

    • If there is a chance of body contact with the spill, wear an apron or coveralls.

    • Wear rubber or plastic (not leather) boots if there is a chance of stepping into the spill.

    • Wear a respirator if there is danger of inhalation of toxic vapors, though only when proper training has preceded its use.

    • Note that protective devices must be chosen carefully to be appropriate for the anticipated hazard. Often training is appropriate or required (e.g., with respirators) prior to their use.

  1. Locate a spill control kit or other appropriate absorbent and cleanup supplies.

  2. Confine or contain the spill:

    • Do not let any of the spilled material enter the sewer system, for example, through a floor drain.

    • Cover the spill with an absorbent material; paper towels may be appropriate for small, unreactive materials.

    • Sweep up or in other ways collect the absorbed materials and place them in a container that can be securely closed.

    • If the spilled material is an acid or a base, use a neutralizing material; sodium bicarbonate is commonly used for acids, and sodium bisulfate for bases. Spill control kits are commercially available for the cleanup of many kinds of chemical spills. (Chapter 6, section 6.F.2.1 , has further information on spill control kits and spill absorbents.)

  1. Dispose of the absorbed spill appropriately as hazardous or nonhazardous waste.

(See Chapter 5, sections 5.C.11.5 and 5.C.11.6, for more detail on spill cleanup.)

7.B.9 Monitoring of Off-Site Waste Disposal

The ultimate destination of waste is usually a treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF). Here waste is held, treated (typically via chemical action or incineration), or actually disposed of. Although the waste has left the generator's facility, the generator retains the final responsibility for the long-term fate of the waste. It is imperative that the generator have complete trust and confidence in the TSDF, as well as in the transporter who carries the waste to the TSDF. In some cases the destination of waste is a recycler or reclaimer. The procedures for preparing and transporting the waste to such a facility are similar to those described above. (See section 7.B.3.)

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